Bill Gates, largest private agricultural owner in US

Bill Gates, largest private agricultural owner in US

Bill Gates, largest private agricultural owner in US

Bill Gates

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  • The purchase of a North Dakota potato farm for $13.5 million has sparked controversy and legal inquiry.
  • Red River Trust is affiliated with Bill Gates, the largest owner of farmland in the United States.
  • State law prohibits corporations, limited liability companies, and trusts from farming or ranching.
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Bill Gates, the wealthiest philanthropist in the world and the largest owner of farmland in the United States, recently purchased a potato farm in North Dakota, much to the chagrin of locals.

“I’ve gotten a big earful on this from clear across the state, it’s not even from that neighbourhood,” Doug Goehring, the state’s agricultural commissioner, told a local NBC affiliate this week. “Those people are upset, but there are others that are just livid about this.”

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This month, AgWeek’s Mikkel Pates was the first to discover and report the $13.5 million sales of approximately 2,100 acres in the northeast region of the state in November.

Pates wrote that while “nobody involved in the deal seems eager to talk about it,” public records connected Gates and the buyer, Red River Trust.

Then, on Tuesday, the North Dakota attorney general’s office notified a trustee, Peter Headley, of a Depression-era rule prohibiting corporations, LLCs, and trusts from engaging in farming and ranching in the state.

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“Our office needs to confirm how your company uses this land and whether this use meets any of the statutory exceptions,” the letter said.

At around $6,000 per acre, the potato farm cost roughly half of what Gates reportedly spent on very desirable land near his Washington home.

However, this is merely a fraction of the immense properties that Gates and his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, possess from sea to shining sea.

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In 2021, according to the Land Report, the Gateses owned 242,000 acres of agriculture, 1,234 acres of recreational land, and 25,750 acres of land in transition from agricultural to residential or commercial usage (think suburban development).

The North Dakota purchase would bring the overall holdings to more than 270 thousand acres, however, it is unclear how the property will be divided following the divorce of Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates last year.

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